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Courts & legal news weekly roundup  

Welcome to the weekly roundup of the latest news from the courts and the legal industry. Each week, we bring you a quick summary of significant developments, new trends, and interesting articles. 

This week’s highlights 

  • Most federal courts close for newly created Juneteenth holiday  
  • Florida: Clerk review for confidential information ends July 1 
  • Survey: Pandemic forced firms to invest in tech, but few believe they’re well placed for the future 
  • Corporate legal prices climb 0.3 percent in June, continuing sharp year-on-year rise 
  • More than five minutes into hearing before the 9th circuit, lawyer realizes he is arguing the wrong case 

Most federal courts close for newly created Juneteenth holiday 

“Many federal courts were closed in some capacity Friday to observe Juneteenth National Independence Day, a newly minted federal holiday. President Joe Biden signed legislation on Thursday enacting the federal holiday, prompting courts to scramble to put out their plans.” (Bloomberg Law) 

President Joe Biden signed legislation on Thursday enacting a new federal holiday to commemorate Juneteenth, which marks the day in 1865 when a group of enslaved people in Texas finally learned, two and a half years after the Emancipation Proclamation was signed, that they were free from the institution of slavery. 

The late signing of the bill left many federal courts scrambling. Due to the decentralized nature of the federal judiciary, individual courts make their own decisions about operations with many opting to close despite the short notice. 

Florida: Clerk review for confidential information ends July 1 

“Florida lawyers won’t have clerks of court backing them up to ensure confidential client information isn’t getting into public court files. Clerks will end automatic reviews to redact confidential information, leaving it up to lawyers to tell clerks when protected information is in their court submissions.” (Florida Bar News) 

After nearly a decade of relying on clerks to remove confidential information from court filings, the Florida courts have changed their rules.  

From July 1, the responsibility for designating confidential information will rest with the filer in three civil-case categories containing such cases as foreclosures, evictions, and small claims.  

The change does not affect family, probate, guardianship, or mental health cases, or any type of criminal case. 

Survey: Pandemic forced firms to invest in tech, but few believe they’re well placed for the future 

“Legal professionals agree that the pandemic accelerated the critical role of technology in the future success of their law firms and legal departments, but only a third believe their organizations are well prepared for addressing technology’s increasing importance.” (LawSites) 

According to the latest edition of the Wolters Kluwer Future Ready Lawyer Survey, almost two-thirds of law firms (63%) recognize the need to increase their technology investment 

Most law firms expect to see changes in how to use technology to serve their clients in the next 12 months, including an emphasis on greater use of technology to improve productivity and greater collaboration and transparency with clients.  

Despite the willingness to invest, most respondents think their firm has a lot of work to do—only 36 percent of respondents believe their firm is well prepared for new technology.  

Corporate legal prices climb 0.3 percent in June, continuing sharp year-on-year rise 

“The producer price index is an inflation measure, which looks at the average change in prices that America’s producers receive for their goods and services… Between May 2020 and May 2021, prices increased 6.6% — the biggest jump recorded since 2010.” (CNN) 

The prices corporate law firms charge their business clients for legal services rose 0.3 percent in May versus April.  

Between May 2020 and May 2021, prices have increased by a total of 3.4 percent—among the fastest increases recorded since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began tracking the metric in November 2020. 

In hearing before the 9th circuit, lawyer realizes he is arguing the wrong case 

“Lawyer Chad Hatfield didn’t realize his goof until several minutes into an argument last Monday before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at San Francisco. Hatfield was talking about fibromyalgia symptoms when judges said they were looking at a case concerning diabetes, manic-depressive disorder and social phobia.” (ABA Journal) 

A Washington-based lawyer spent several minutes arguing an entirely different case before an Appeal Court panel this week. After several minutes, a judge interjected, saying: “Check to make sure you’ve got the right case in front of you.”  

Only then did Hatfield realize that he was arguing the wrong case. Original Jurisdiction blogger David Lat has the story, and litigator Ted Frank posted the video on Twitter. 

Hatfield explained that he was scheduled to argue two cases this month. He said his “scheduler” had put down the fibromyalgia case to be argued that day and the other case for next week. 

“I have them flip-flopped,” he said. 

Author

  • Richard Heinrich

    Richard is Vice President of Sales and Marketing at InfoTrack. He has worked with law firms for more than a decade to advise on adapting to regulatory and technological change. He writes about the courts, civil procedure, and developing trends that may affect law firm operations.